A new law in Hong Kong bans the sale and production of CBD, imposing severe penalties and pulling the rug out from under an increasingly popular market.
The Hong Kong government last week announced that CBD was included in the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, putting the cannabinoid alongside the likes of cocaine and methamphetamine.
“The substance will be under the same strict control as other dangerous drugs,” according to the government’s announcement.
CBD had been legal and sold in the city’s retail stores and cafes.
The move brings Hong Kong’s rules on CBD more in line with the mainland, which imposed a strict ban on the cannabinoid in 2022.
Hong Kong’s first CBD cafe, called Found, opened in 2020, selling CBD-infused massage oils, cookies and coffee, The Washington Post reported.
Altum International, which owns Found, told the newspaper it will turn its focus to other markets, namely Australia and New Zealand, and potential opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Jennifer Lo, the owner of CBD Bakery, which sold CBD-infused cheesecakes, cookies and drinks, told NPR that “business largely dried up” before the ban took effect last week as word of the new prohibition spread.
The penalties China imposed for violating the CBD ban are severe.
Manufacturing of CBD now comes with a potential penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of 5 million Hong Kong dollars ($637,222).
Possession and consumption can lead to seven years in jail and a fine of up to 1 million Hong Kong dollars.
Hong Kong said it had established voluntary disposal boxes, which had collected 77,400 items as of Jan. 29.
Those items were mostly skin care products, edible oils and health supplements.